J Walking

Mr. Abramoff is now off in a prison. We are all dreadfully aware of his sins. They have been very public. And he is aware of them, too. He wrote this in a final email to friends:

“I have learned more lessons in the past three years than I have my whole life, and I am hoping that my family and I can see the good in G-d’s plan for us during these times, and gain strength from it.”

He is an Orthodox Jew and doesn’t want to profane G-d’s name by spelling it out. Yes, there are a plenty of wisecracks to be made about how he wouldn’t dare spell G-d’s name, but he would profane it with his life.

But that is true of all of us, isn’t it?

It is certainly Ted Haggard’s story. It was Jimmy Swaggart’s story. It was Peter’s story and Paul’s, too. It is my story. Oh, we hypcrites, we merry band of hypcorites proclaiming one thing about God and then living another way entirely.

The problem is that it is just so easy to do.

I am sitting in a New York hotel room a few blocks from Times Square. I imagine that I could probably fulfill/succomb to every imaginable temptation in just the next few hours. And, after all, who would know?

God would know. I would know. And after some period of time lots of people would know. That is just the nature of things. The truth gets discovered. “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight,” said Jesus, “and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

But on the other side of that exposure is another choice, another temptation — confess, repent and try again, or give in to a certain measure of hopelessness figuring you can never change?

Mr. Abramoff has chosen to try again. Some will say that it is all a ploy. Others will say he has no choice. Perhaps. But mostly, I think he recognizes the rawest truth of our hearts — that we really, truly, absolutely, can’t do life all alone. We do need God and, fortunately, God wants us.

I know that many will say our desire for God is simply an admission of human weakness. We can’t do it on our own and therefore we need this thing called “god.” Maybe. Or perhaps we were simply made to need God.

That was part of Harold Crick’s stuggle in Stranger than Fiction. He needed to know that his life wasn’t pointless, and that even though he wasn’t in control, he could embrace the story written for him. And not embrace in a passive way, but embrace in a way that would actually give him life.

I used to think that I could just choose God once. I thought I could dedicate my life to him and the details would all just work themselves out neatly. The reality is that I have to do that over and over and over again, just like we all do — even Jack Abramoff, and even Harold Crick.

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